By adding Yovani Gallardo to their rotation, the Orioles also would create a few questions that I’ll pose here. It’s too bad that I don’t have the answers to go with them. They would be a nice accompaniment, but it’s just too soon.
Let’s start with the fact that the rotation would consist of five right-handed starters, with Gallardo joining Chris Tillman, Ubaldo Jimenez, Miguel Gonzalez and Kevin Gausman. Executive vice president Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter agree that it’s more important to find a good right-hander than a mediocre southpaw. I’ll buy that.
Must the bullpen now include T.J. McFarland as the left-handed long man backing up the right-handers? Showalter values McFarland in that role. Otherwise, closer Zach Britton and Brian Matusz are the only southpaws projected to break camp with the team.
Matusz could be stretched out again in spring training, but he’s been valuable as a matchup guy later in games. Also, there’s currently one opening in the bullpen, assuming that Britton, Matusz, Darren O’Day, Brad Brach, Mychal Givens and Dylan Bundy are locks.
Givens could be optioned to open up another spot, but he’d probably have to pitch his way off the team.
How would Vance Worley be impacted by Gallardo’s arrival besides no longer having a real chance to compete for a job in the rotation? The Orioles could shift him into a long relief role, especially while trying to keep Bundy on a lighter work load early in the season, but the McFarland factor remains in play.
Worley signed for $2.6 million to avoid arbitration, but a player receives only 30 days termination pay prior to March 16 and 45 days from March 17-30. The Orioles wouldn’t be on the hook for the entire salary if they released him in spring training.
Yesterday’s signing of right-hander Dale Thayer to a minor league contract with a spring training invitation further crowds the bullpen picture.
The Orioles are willing to surrender the 14th overall pick in the upcoming draft, but what about their next selection, which would fall to 28th if they sign Gallardo? Could we have a repeat of 2014, when the Orioles signed Jimenez and outfielder Nelson Cruz after reporting to spring training?
Outfielder Dexter Fowler remains on the market after turning down the Cubs’ qualifying offer. The Orioles still haven’t settled on a right fielder or leadoff hitter. He still makes sense on some levels.
While the Orioles remain committed to drafting pitchers in order to restock the farm system, they’ve at least discussed the possibility of also signing Fowler, as I wrote yesterday. I’m not placing odds on it, but the idea hasn’t entirely been shot down.
Who comes off the 40-man roster to make room for the next signing? The decision has become much more difficult, which is a good thing. No dead weight.
The Orioles seem intent on keeping Francisco Pena, a third catcher on the 40-man, though he has zero chance to break camp with the team unless there’s an injury. Jimmy Paredes is out of options and there may not be room for him if they want to hold onto Rule 5 pick Joey Rickard. The odds drop more if they acquire another outfielder or Pedro Alvarez.
I’m braced for Gallardo news to break today, probably while I’m driving or otherwise unavailable. I have a few appointments and a radio show to do.
Gallardo was 7-8 with a 2.62 ERA and 1.226 WHIP in 19 starts in the first half last season, and opponents batted .231/.295/.322 against him. He was 6-3 with a 4.69 ERA and 1.718 WHIP in 14 starts in the second half, and opponents batted .323/.383/.512 against him.
Gallardo shut out the Orioles on two hits over six innings in a July 2 start at Camden Yards. However, he completed six innings in only two starts after the break.
The Orioles have received solid recommendations on Gallardo from a few executives outside the organization. He’s viewed as a guy who bounces back from his poor outings and is capable of responding with a string of scoreless innings. He won’t dwell on his failures.
It’s also been noticed that Gallardo is 3-0 with a 1.33 ERA in three career starts against the Blue Jays. A small sample size isn’t the primary reason why they’re trying to sign him, but it doesn’t hurt.
Shameless plug alert: I’m back at Dempsey’s Brew Pub & Restaurant for the “Hot Stove Show” from 6-7 p.m. on 105.7 The Fan.
Duquette is joining us for one segment and Showalter is calling into the show.